May 21, 2008

Obesity on the Front Page of the Post

by Dr. Randi Abramson, Medical Clinic Director.

Obesity is a problem that just won't go away. The recent series in the Washington Post has been interesting to read, and a reminder that there is no quick fix to this problem.

I have always thought that Bread for the City has a unique compliment of services--health care and food--under one roof. And we must both model good choices and be agents of change when it comes to nutrition for our clients.

Food has an immense impact on health. We, as an organization, must model good choices for nutritious food--less fat, less salt, more vegetables are messages that everyone should follow. We talk about healthy food choices during the patient's medical visit, offer healthier choices in the food bag, and provide information through hand-outs and recipe ideas of how to eat healthier and stay in a budget. Having a nutritionist on staff to provide both staff and clients with guidance has been a great addition to our nutrition message.

But Bread for the City is not simply an agency to provide services to "fill in the gap." If we only provided a bag of groceries for clients for 3 days...we would still feel our work was not done. We need to have our patients see healthy food choices in their bags so they can make better choices the other 27 days of the month. The more we send out the correct message, the more we talk about obesity and healthy food choices, the more we challenge our clients to think about their health every day, the more likely these ideas will move into action.

As the Washington Post pointed out, obesity effects everyone. But there are unique challenges for the obese who are also poor. Working your way out of poverty starts with good health and healthy eating.

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